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Author Topic:   KEY WEST - SPRING
Mambo Minnow posted 02-07-2007 05:56 PM ET (US)   Profile for Mambo Minnow  
Very excited about opportunity for family school break vacation in Key West. Definitely taking the Whaler. I have lodging and marina worked out. My question is where would you recommend boating for both snorkeling and fishing? Gulf side or Atlantic side? Not sure if Dry Tortugas is too far with a single motor boat.

Any boating advice in this area welcome - thanks!

bms1939 posted 02-07-2007 07:31 PM ET (US)     Profile for bms1939  Send Email to bms1939     
The Dry Tortugas are about 70 miles from Key West, a long trip for a small boat. If you are in Key west dont miss the trip out there. If your not in a rush you can take a ferry type boat out there(about 3-4 hour trip)or take a sea plane(about 30 minutes). Fort Jefferson is an unbelievable site, you cant even imagine it without seeing it, dont miss it. The Atlantic side of the Keys are loaded with dive and snokeling sites. Looe Key National Park is great for a family to go snorkeling, its about 20 miles north of Key West about 6 miles out. Theres another spot off Bahia Honda, just south of the seven mile bridge, I think its called Sombrero Light. Both of these places have mooring balls to attach to so you dont damage the coral, they are fairly shallow with excellent visibility. I spent 2 weeks down there with a 20' boat, I think I spent 10 full days on the boat exploring, fishing, and snorkeling. One day was to the Dry Tortugas, another was to Key West for a day of shopping, lost 2 days to windy weather or it would have been twelve. When you leave make sure its at night, the ride up the Keys was almost too much to handle knowing I had to head home. I bought an information book before I went down there, if I see anything in the book that looks interesting I'll leave you another post.
an86carrera posted 02-07-2007 08:06 PM ET (US)     Profile for an86carrera  Send Email to an86carrera     
I would definitely plan on both sides. Pick you side by weather for the day, if the bushes are moving in the wind go inside(gulf). Have a good trip.


phatwhaler posted 02-07-2007 08:24 PM ET (US)     Profile for phatwhaler  Send Email to phatwhaler     

I can't tell by your profile what type of Whaler you have but here is my take on your situation.

1. You evidently have an Armed Forces ID card. That is a good thing in Key West. I assume you used it to secure your lodging.

2. I always launch my boat at the Sigsbee marina which is part of NAS Key West. Turn right on Sigsbee road off of North Roosevelt. Follow the signs to the marina.

3. Due south of Key West is the Sand Key light house. It has plenty of mooring balls for you to anchor and snorkel.

4. There are plenty of other shallow reefs in the area to explore, just look at your chart.

5. It starts to get deep quick as you motor south of the light house. The yellow tail fishing is great along the reefs edge in maybe 60-90 feet of water.

6. You may also want to troll ballyhoo along the reef line also. I would get your big eyes out and look for the charter fleet and crash the party.

7. If you like to dive, there are two decent wrecks to dive right off Key West. The Cayman Salvager and Joe's tug. You can find the coordinates on the net. There are mooring buoys on these sites, but the charter boats usually are sitting on them. Anchoring works though.

8. The Tortugas is a long was away, you might be better of going to the Marquesas Key to fish. This area is only 25 miles away and very accessible in a smaller boat. Guides go out there all the time in flats boats. Search the Florida Sportsman Forum for details.

That's about all I can think of for now.

pw out.

contender posted 02-09-2007 09:43 PM ET (US)     Profile for contender  Send Email to contender     
Phatwhaler is correct, hit the Marquesas Keys, be careful of the bottom lots of flats, Weather is your big concern for the trip for the ocean or the gulf. Some of the islands in the marguesas have some nice beaches and if the water is nice it makes for a great picnic dive area. Just bring something for the sun and sun glasses. Lot of good fishing around the Marguesas also, you are coming to the end of cobia season but you may be able to find a couple. Do not forget your Fishing Lic. and make sure you have all of your coast guard stuff. Night/ afternoon time you will see plenty of tarpon around the docks and key west basin... have fun
Mambo Minnow posted 02-10-2007 11:23 AM ET (US)     Profile for Mambo Minnow    
Phatwhaler you are correct. I hear that Sigsbee is going through some renovations, but all I really need is the ramp and gas. I have a Conquest 21. I did not know about the mooring balls, that's great! I surmise it's to minimize reef damage.

Thanks to Contender and you for the tips!

17 bodega posted 02-13-2007 01:24 AM ET (US)     Profile for 17 bodega  Send Email to 17 bodega     
I envy you guys/gals. I spent a week during December in the Keys and would love to bring my boat out there. A true playground with a fishing pole, whaler, swimsuit and scuba gear. I got to dive a reef in snotty water with the wind doing about 30, but still had a blast. While the other divers were getting ready to go, I just dove in with my swim trunks off the back of the boat... I can't do that in the 50 degree California water here.
KellyHicks posted 02-14-2007 04:57 PM ET (US)     Profile for KellyHicks  Send Email to KellyHicks     
I am a veteran of Key West to Dry Tortugas Trips, with around 10 under my belt. That said I have a 06 305 Conquest with twin 250 Verados.I am going to start a new thread after this post to plan some 2008 trips.(I live on Cudjoe Key MM23...Key West is MileMarker 0)I am here November till March 15th every year for the past 4 years.
A lot of details have been covered but I'll add a few. Winter is the WINDY MONTHS, fortunately for you, in Key West waters there is always some calmness somewhere to snorkel/dive/fish based on Wind direction and speed.
Know the range of your boat and fuel consumption, it is 70 Nautical miles each direction with no gas stations...most boats that don't have the range bring cans of gas to refuel.
There is a place called "Lakes Passage" which takes you almost to the Marquesas from Key West and is protected even in a strong wind. At High tide the Shallowest Water I have run into was 2.5 feet of water under my boat, and according to Whaler it drafts 20" (I only go through the pass at or near high tide...I suggest mapping it on your gps at a slow pace prior to making a fast run through there). Another option is wait for a boat that looks like they know what they are doing and follow behind. The channel is marked...but very very far between some of the markers.
Looe Key was mentioned it is 6 Nautical miles from my dock. It is a great snorkel or dive site which maxes out at 30 feet deep, but the coral canyons come to within 15 feet of the surface.A world class dive site...people come from al over the world to go there.If you dont drag your boat over there goto either Underseas Inc.(my #1 choice)
Phone: 305.872.2700
BIG PINE , FL 33040
Phone: 305.872.9863
BIG PINE , FL 33043 Same kinda dive boats, but strike zone has glass bottoms in their Fast Cat...kinda neat for non-divers.
If you can get into the state park campground over there its a wonderful place as well:(they run a snorkel only boat scuba divers)
Phone: (305)872-3210 *
36850 Overseas Highway
Big Pine Key , FL 33043
Recently named the second most beautiful beach in North America, Bahia Honda (meaning deep bay in Spanish) not only provides white sandy beaches; tropical vegetation and a great variety of bird life are included in this mini-paradise.
Enjoy, I'm off to plan a Tortugas Trip
Kelly Hicks
jmorgan40 posted 02-19-2007 10:24 AM ET (US)     Profile for jmorgan40  Send Email to jmorgan40     
I towed the 20 Outrage to Key West from Atlanta this past July. A friend in work loaned me his great townhouse right on Key West Bight. Had a great time although it was a long drive pulling the boat. Great snorkling all along the reef from Sand Key on to the east. All the snorkling spots are well marked by the DNR and all have an abundant supply of mooring bouys to tie up to. They do not want you anchoring on the reef. My buddy also hooked me up with some great places to eat where all the locals hang. You can also rent a boat for a few days from several places. I believe Hurricane Hole right before you cross over the bridge into Key West has some great boats for rent.

There are plenty of charter boats out of the Municipal Marina and Key West Bight. The seaplane trip to the Dry Tortugas is really nice or you can also take an all day snorkel trip there which would be nice.
Personally, I do not think the humidity is as bad compared to what I am accustomed to in Atlanta. In July I expected it to be as humid as all getup, but it was actually much more comfortable than Hotlanta. And with the tradewinds you will always enjoy a 10-15 mph breeze.

As for places to eat, here are some great places where the locals hang that are Great. If you want fancy & expensive there is no end to the list of expensive eateries along Duval Street. I always have the kids along so I choose the more reasonable route. Here you go:

Sea Food:

Rusty Anchor on Stock Island -- This is a locals place and my favorite. Freshest seafood and reasonable prices. Nothing fancy with concrete floors so when the huricane hits they just broom the water out the doors.

Hog Fish Grill on Stock Island -- Old funky Keys type bar down near the docks on Stock Island. Very hard to find but worth a visit. The Hog fish sandwich is out of this world.

B.O’s Fish Wagon on Caroline Street -- Very cool little joint by Key West Bight. Mostly fried fish but still excellent and fast while your cruising the dock area.

Half Shell Raw Bar-Key West Bight -- Tourist place. But people seem to love it and the food is excellent and fresh.

Schooner Wharf Bar—Key West Bight -- Outdoor old key west type place. I love their Mahi Melt sandwich. Great place to stop for a drink after you return from your snorkel trip.

Captain Harvey’s Run Aground -- Floating dump in Garrison Bight. Has it’s charms though.

Awful Arthur’s—Duval Street -- I’ve only eaten there once. I remember I thought it was a deal. Fish & Chips under ten dollars on Duval Street.

Crabby Dick’s—Duval Street (I would not recommend Crabby Bill’s)-- Touristy. But has a deck looking over Duval. Been there for years. Decent and not expensive and a great place to watch people stroll Duval.

Other Places on my cheap list

PT’s Late Night on Caroline Street -- This place is a local’s place. It has good food and is reasonable. Especially their daily specials.

Mangia Mangia -- This is a homemade pasta place. Not real cheap, but has meals in the $9-$15 range.

Cuban Mix Deli—US 1 on way into Key West -- Really good Cuban sandwiches

Hope this helps.

Mambo Minnow posted 02-19-2007 07:18 PM ET (US)     Profile for Mambo Minnow    
Thanks for all the restaurant tips JPMorgan. Last time there it was just me and my honey; now we have 4 children. I have about seven hours less than you to travel, but still a haul. I think it will be well worth it; a once in a lifetime chance. I agree with you about the humidity...I lived six months in Athens, GA and it was one of the humidist places on earth!
Mambo Minnow posted 03-12-2007 05:06 PM ET (US)     Profile for Mambo Minnow    
Two weeks to go! Bumping for any other last minute suggestions/recommendations.
Moose posted 03-12-2007 06:11 PM ET (US)     Profile for Moose  Send Email to Moose     
Just returned from a week of thawing out in Key West. Had some really nice meals.

Mangia Mangia is still great.

Pepe's on Caroline Street, for breakfast and Dinner.

The best Cuban mix may be a tie, 5 Brothers or The Courthouse Deli. I kept trying, over and over, to figure it out.

contender posted 03-12-2007 10:15 PM ET (US)     Profile for contender  Send Email to contender     
dive gear for all of your kids, sun glasses, and hats, stop at robbies on the way down this is a must (MM 78 Bay side) they will love hand feeding the tarpon. Have plenty of a high number sun cream and make sure your kids use it. Take more money than you think (have plastic will travel) Key West is not cheap. Find out where the shrimp docks are and go buy some right off the boat nothing better. Weather is the main concern but I can not help you with that. Wish you all a fun and safe vacation...good luck
jmorgan40 posted 03-13-2007 04:53 AM ET (US)     Profile for jmorgan40  Send Email to jmorgan40     
When I just want to buy fresh shrimp I go the the Rusty Anchor...My favorite place to eat is a block from the docks and has a seafood market around back. Please do not for get the Hogfish Grill. It is hard to find but you will love this little Keys bar. The Hogfish sandwich is to die for. Have a great time.
Mambo Minnow posted 03-13-2007 07:03 PM ET (US)     Profile for Mambo Minnow    
What kind of rigging did you make up for mooring to the mooring buoy at the reefs? I'd like to make up before I leave.
jmorgan40 posted 03-14-2007 08:56 PM ET (US)     Profile for jmorgan40  Send Email to jmorgan40     
The bouys at the reef locations have a heavy rope about 6 feet long with a large loop. I just slip one end of a dock line through the loop and tie it off on the cleat. The whe your ready to leave just untie at the cleat and pull it through the loop. Also don't forget the dive flag. I am not a diver but i stopped at the local Boaters World there in Key West and purchased one with the wire frame and clasps that clip to your antenna. If you want to borrow i I can mail it to you for the trip and just return it when you get back. Let me know

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